Honza Pokorný

A personal blog

Chicago-style essays in org-mode

Many LaTeX guides on the internet focus on writing documents in the math and engineering context but not many are suited for the humanities. What if you wanted to write a theology paper with Chicago-style footnotes and bibligraphy?

Let’s start with a new document called paper.org.

#+title: The Title of Your Paper
#+author: Your Name

Then we can add some document settings:

#+options: toc:nil num:nil date:nil
#+bibliography: bibliography.bib
#+cite_export: csl chicago-fullnote-bibliography-16th-edition.csl chicago-note-bibliography-16th-edition.csl

We turn off the table of contents and remove the date. Then we link our bibliography file and our cite styles. The style files can be downloaded from the official repository.

For the bibliography, we can use ZoteroBib.

Here is what the Hendrickson edition of Calvin’s Institutes looks like:

  address={Peabody, Mass},
  title={Institutes of the Christian religion},
  publisher={Hendrickson Publishers},
  author={Calvin, Jean},

Then we can start writing our paper in standard org-mode.

* Introduction
What is the proper way to worship God?

And let’s say we want to quote Calvin at this point. To insert a citation, do M-x org-cite-insert and select the correct reference. We just have Calvin so select it and hit enter. Emacs will insert [cite:@Calvin_2008] and we can edit this to specify a page: [cite@Calvin_2008 p 121]. This will automatically insert a footnote and format the reference for you. Magic!

To print a bibliography, add the following to the end of your document:

* Bibliography

Now we are ready to export, run M-x org-export dispatch and select LaTeX and then PDF.

You can see the result here.

EDIT 2024-03-28: Earlier version of the article suggested manually creating footnotes. On Reddit, /u/red_bdarcus pointed out that this is unnecessary. Thanks!

This article was first published on March 7, 2024. As you can see, there are no comments. I invite you to email me with your comments, criticisms, and other suggestions. Even better, write your own article as a response. Blogging is awesome.